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Challenge at Point of Release - Closeouts

I believe this closeout concept has shown the greatest effect on impacting a shot. Not only does it challenge shooters but it also gives purpose to our defenders. Contesting a shot becomes more than just having a hand up. It’s about contesting at the point of release - contesting “Above the Clouds.”

This is a concept taken from two defensive sages of the game: Rick Pitino and Tony Bennett. The defender’s contest should be even to the offensive player’s final release point. In doing so, they can greatly increase the chances of disrupting a shooter. And if we can succeed in disrupting a shooter, even in the slightest, we have greatly increased our chances at altering its outcome.

The shooters go from relying on their thousands of reps of practice to now being forced to rely on their precise accuracy and shooting touch. Making for a much harder shot.

One hesitation you will have when applying this approach is the need for some players to leave their feet during a contest. Now I agree, we don’t want to block the shot and we certainly don’t want to foul, but if we are faced with a superior shooter or shooting team/league - then we must do our very best to impact their shooting percentage, not just attempts.

The “Second Jumper” concept becomes interlaced with this one. Players needing to wait until the shooters feet leave the ground or two hands come onto the ball during an off-the-dribble attempt. One key here, we don’t want to be lunging forward like Superman! We need vertical-skyscraper contests and we need them at the point of release-above the clouds.

If you would like to learn more about these concepts and training; the Closeout Clinic offers 37 minutes focused on lower body mechanics, upper body mechanics, long vs short closeouts, coaching concepts, keys and principles as well as important drills for building these mechanics and nuance. To find out more: - additionally the Lockdown Book contains an entire concept on the area of Closeouts!

See you next time.

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